All eyes have been glued to this mega swell for Central America over the next 24 hours or so, and rightfully so – that thing's a beast. But over the past few days, and on the other side of the world, a powerful typhoon has been raging off the coast of the Philippines, before spinning up to Taiwan and setting off locales across the country's southern coastline.
The Typhoon called Surigae, is still hanging around too. It's billed to head on a north easterly track, and while it does, will continue to hammer swell into Taiwan. Luckily, on hand in that stretch of the world is photographer Neil Armstrong (aka Moonwalker, for obvious reasons and under the IG handle @surftaiwan) who has been darting around Taiwan capturing action for MSW.
This ain't all sunshine and rainbows though. It is pure power out of the Philippines Sea -- some spots completely blown apart by the sheer power of Surigae. What you're seeing throughout is a load of empty colossal waves, with a few raw gems ripe for the plucking and the result of what a record-breaking typhoon can really do for Taiwan.
Typhoon Surigae: how it formed
Neil used to shoot and write for Pacific Longboard Magazine – his credentials speak for themselves. “This swell has been interesting,” he tells MSW. “We're used to typhoons generally heading away after running parallel with either coasts, thus pumping in plenty of swell for a long period of time.
“But this has been growing in intensity and was very quick to form and move towards us.”
Taiwan is famed for its longboarding potential – with world class events held there pre-pandemic. Of course, when a typhoon rifles in, it's all about seeking shelter and sometimes, you just need to sit back and watch it all unfold.
“The East Coast has been so-so - it really needs swell with some north in it,” says Neil. “Like, winter swells or a strong typhoon that's about to hit or graze Japan - and not even half of the South Coast breaks have worked on this typhoon. But this system has provided some fun waves it's just the first of the season, so we'll say it's a nice warm-up.”
Surigae has broken records as the most powerful April Typhoon ever. More than 100,000 people have been displaced and one person in the Philippines has died in its wake. As of yet, the extent of any destruction is not yet know. No humanitarian aid has been announced – but if it is, we will update this article with links to help out.
“The swell originated from Typhoon Surigae (or Bising) which started pumping out swell as it tracked westwards towards the Philippines around April 15 and 16, says MSW forecaster Tony Butt. “It reached peak intensity about 200 miles west of the islands, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph.
“At spots in central areas the swell began to arrive on Saturday 17 and quickly increased to well over six feet at easterly exposures, with moderate to fresh westerly winds off the southern flank of the system as it moved north. In northern areas the swell arrived later in the weekend, with wave heights hitting ten feet at exposed spots and strong winds from a northerly quarter as the system stalled off the coast.
“A further boost of swell arrived mid-week, hitting 15 feet at exposed spots, with strong northerly winds, backing around to the northwest as the system moved away towards the northeast.
“In Taiwan, the storm stayed far enough away from the coast for the swell to be reasonably clean and lined-up. The first long-period components started arriving by Monday 19, having been generated by the system as it passed central areas of the Philippines. Wave heights at exposed spots persisted at around five or six feet until Wednesday, with fresh to strong northwest winds.
“On Thursday, a further boost of swell arrived, hitting ten feet or so at exposed spots, with light northerly winds as the storm arced away to the east. Clean conditions are expected to continue through Friday, with light variable winds and wave heights ramping down steadily.”
The swell's still hanging around for the next few days, so we'll drop in any images as they come around.
Bonus! The Philippines went off too
Before Surigae rifled into Taiwan, it sent a huge swell over to the Philippines -- a bit further south than Taiwan. A number of sheltered spots were kissed by a massive run of swell. But sniff around long enough and you'll find a rippable, chest to shoulder high locale, with enough in it for just about anyone. Here's a few from around Luzon, in the archipelago's north.